It’s hard to rate a book of short stories with a single “out of 5 stars” rating. Some of these stories I would definitely give 5 stars (e.g. “Sophia,” “One of These Days We Have to Do Something About Willie,” “Closure”). There were a couple in the beginning that were pretty raunchy. The J.C. Audetat one wins the “one of these things is not like the other” award. The “Kindness Among Cakes” wins for “shortest yet still thought-provoking.”
I think my hands down favorite was “Sophia,” which contained the “one more thing” line that served as the title for the collection. Ironically, if not subtly, this story about a sex doll contained some of the most profound insights on love and human relationships that I can remember reading in quite some time. Including how we tend to dismiss that which comes too easily. And how, especially in youth, we assume, and so live life as if, there is an infinite number of people we will meet and befriend and love and get to know, when in reality this is simply not true, there is a very finite number of such people, the majority of whom we meet early in life, and how, for a variety of reasons, we meet fewer and fewer as life goes on.
“Closure” was also funny, and dark, but with profound truths, I thought, about that ever elusive concept.
“Willie…” I just loved. Funny, also dark, but thought-provoking. I think what I enjoyed most, the stories I enjoyed most, had to do with imperfection and how we are all imperfect and who are any of us to judge, you know?
The “fine line between why and why not” was a clever parody of so many graduation speeches we have all heard, yet there is truth there too.
Have always loved the line from “Anna Karenina”: “All happy families are alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Great book, great stories, I look forward to more from Mr. Novak.